Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tweeting the 5000

For what it's worth, I've been Twittering regularly since March of 2009 and today I hit the 5000-tweet milestone. This is nothing compared to some more prodigious tweeters, but it is something when viewed all on one page. Does this mean I've blogged less than I once did? Of course, but I've always preferred the blog for longer form posts anyway. Twitter is a great tool for free-flowing conversation, link-sharing, and all sorts of fun with words. Witness the great #fakeams hashtag* from September in which hundreds of would-be musicologists tweeted their ideas for American Musicological Society papers. (This was inspired by Alex Ross's post about ten "real" AMS paper titles.** Ross actually was tipped off about those by Will Robin, who also started the #fakeams fun.)

Here are my #fakeams submissions:
  • "A New Lexicon of Musical Invective: The YouTube Commentariat as Aesthetic Arbiters for the Petit bourgeoisie" #fakeams peer-review: kate97485 link
  • "This is Not a #FakeAMS: Reality Dislocation and the Assumption That Every New Tweet Should Be Interpreted as Geeky Musicological Humor" link
  • "C What I Did There?: Terry Riley's Response to Schoenberg's Claim that "There is still much good music that can be written in C."" link
  • "What You Talkin' Bout, Weelkes?: The English Madrigal and The Urban Vernacular." link
  • "A Lemonade Sublime: Balancing the Rum and Wagner in a Perfect Albert Herring." link
[***see tiresome joke explanations below.]

That second one is kind of meta - a reflection on what it's like when one of these great hashtags is in play; after a while, everything I'd read sounded like a possible musicology paper. I have too many favorites from the other submissions to list now, but I did take the trouble to archive most of the tweets that came in over about three days. (My archive doesn't include a few that came in later.)

The reason I created that archive is that Twitter is set up to make past posts hard to find, although they don't actually disappear. When a hashtag like the one above is created, one can easily track newly tagged posts as they come in, but they disappear from Twitter search after about a week. I, however, have stubbornly insisted on keeping ALL of my own tweets archived so that no typed thought of mine should go unforgotten. Every time I've reached a milestone (starting way back with 300), I post them in a big page so that it's easy to search through them. (Believe it or not, I've found these archives quite useful multiple times when I've been trying to track down an old link.)

So, I'm keeping this post short, but you can go here and read everything I've ever tweeted - more than 100,000 words! (The link may take some time to load; it's about 8MB of minutiae.) Some of the conversational stuff might not make that much sense, some of the links have gone cold, but there's bound to be something in there of interest. George Costanza once said, while trying to impress a NYC tour guide who thought he'd just moved in from Arkansas, "You know if you take everything I've ever done in my entire life and condense it down into one day... it looks decent." To paraphrase, "if you take everything I've ever done in my entire Twittering career and condense it down into one page...it looks decent." (Second time I've used that quote, if you're keeping score. Also, I am from Arkansas.)

*And, of course, there's always #operaplot.

** Not sure why I put "real" in scare quotes there - but I like it.

*** Probably the only thing worse than a too-clever-for-it-own-good bit of humor is someone explaining that humor, but since my #fakeams titles are intended to sound pretentious, it's perfectly understandable if they make no sense whatsoever. So, just to pat myself on the back a bit more, here they are explained:
  1. The first one refers to Nicholas Slonimsky's famous Lexicon of Musical Invective which immortalizes all sorts of harsh words critics delivered at works now considered to be masterpieces. Anyone who's ever read through a few YouTube video comment pages will know that there's no shortage of absurd but strongly worded opinions to be found there. (I'm not even sure what the "Petit bourgeoisie" is; it just sounded good and Marxist.)
  2. The second I've already explained above. It's not very good anyway.
  3. So I'm not sure if Schoenberg ever really did say "there is still plenty of good music to be written in C Major," but the quote is often attributed to him as a way of showing that he wasn't just all revolutionary, tonal-busting fervor. He loved and respected the tonal tradition, although I don't know what he would have thought of Terry Riley's In C
  4. If #4 is a mystery, there's no shame in not knowing about Gary Coleman's catchphrase. And you could be forgiven for not know much about Thomas Weelkes and his madrigals.
  5. I love Britten's comic opera Albert Herring about as much as any opera - in one famous scene, the title character has his lemonade spiked with rum and Britten quotes the love-potion music from Wagner's Tristan und Isolde to illustrate the effect the rumonade (which should certainly be known as an "Albert Herring") has on poor Albert.

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